Major Gen. Coleman addressing the media
Members of the Civic Forum Initiative (CFI), a Civil Society Organization (CSO), have asked the Constitutional Review Implementation Committee (CRIC) to publicly disclose the 34 entrenched constitutional provisions that are expected to be amended.
Major General Nii Carl Coleman, Chairman of the forum, opined that a declaration of the provisions would enable citizens to make informed decisions in the event of a referendum this year.
He stated that seven other entrenched provisions had been submitted in addition to the 34.
There is little public knowledge on such clauses, hence the need for effective education and stakeholder inputs before the changes take effect, he indicated.
CFI noted that parliamentarians must have ample time to consider the bill while the Executive and the Council of State come to a consensus on the referendum and amendment process of the entrenched provisions in the constitution.
Addressing a press conference in Accra, the forum called for an extension of the period set for the referendum on the proposed amendments.
The organization emphasized that a referendum on the amendment of entrenched clauses, this year, should not be hastened, as there are laid down procedures, which must be followed.
Seth Abloso, a member of the group stated: ‘constitutional amendment is not an everyday or yearly affair and the quality of the decisions that are made must stand the test of time. Therefore, opening up the process to broad based participation would help strengthen popular commitment to the amended constitution.’
It admitted that the Constitutional Review Implementation Committee invited various civil society organizations to contribute to the review process.
‘The Ghanaian public has had little or no opportunity to engage with and understand the work of the CRIC and that very few people know and understand the actual issues on which the forthcoming referendum would be conducted,’ it noted.
Major Gen. Coleman stated that CSOs can only embark on a campaign to educate the public when the clauses to be amended are made known.
‘The constitution is the people’s document. Whatever it contains affects individual and collective lives. Therefore, the current proposals for amendment of the 1992 constitution should be opened for people’s involvement and ownership,’ he stressed.
Justice Emil Short confirmed that in the case of a referendum, citizens must be allowed to vote on each of the entrenched provisions rather than assembling all 34 provisions for a single vote.
He noted that when all the entrenched provisions are not separated, citizens could be misled to support an amendment, which might not be in their favour.
The group stressed the importance of further stakeholder consultations.
BY Ernest Nutsugah
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